June 2011

the bliss in which we move…

To walk abroad is, not with eyes,
But thoughts, the fields to see and prize;
Else may the silent feet,
Like logs of wood,
Move up and down, and see no good
Nor joy nor glory meet.

Ev’n carts and wheels their place do change,
But cannot see, though very strange
The glory that is by;
Dead puppets may
Move in the bright and glorious day,
Yet not behold the sky.
And are not men than they more blind,
Who having eyes yet never find
The bliss in which they move;
Like statues dead
They up and down are carried
Yet never see nor love.


To walk is by a thought to go;
To move in spirit to and fro;
To mind the good we see;
To taste the sweet;
Observing all the things we meet
How choice and rich they be.

To note the beauty of the day,
And golden fields of corn survey;
Admire each pretty flow’r
With its sweet smell;
To praise their Maker, and to tell
The marks of his great pow’r.
To fly abroad like active bees,
Among the hedges and the trees,
To cull the dew that lies
On ev’ry blade,
From ev’ry blossom; till we lade
Our minds, as they their thighs.

Observe those rich and glorious things,
The rivers, meadows, woods, and springs,
The fructifying sun;
To note from far
The rising of each twinkling star
For us his race to run.

A little child these well perceives,
Who, tumbling in green grass and leaves,
May rich as kings be thought,
But there’s a sight
Which perfect manhood may delight,
To which we shall be brought.
While in those pleasant paths we talk,
‘Tis that tow’rds which at last we walk;
For we may by degrees
Wisely proceed
Pleasures of love and praise to heed,
From viewing herbs and trees.

Thomas Traherne

food glorious food


It used to be said that British food wasn’t the best, but I have always been quite taken with it, and with Jamie Oliver and Hugh F.W. and all of the unsung growers and cooks making fresh, local, and organic much more common, it should only get better and better. Of course, I admit that I am biased and that I haven’t traveled extensively. Nor do I live in a particularly rich area for variety or deep consciousness about food. It is a wish that I send out into the universe fairly often that Williamsburg might get a vegetarian restaurant….even a place to get a fair-trade, organic cup of coffee would be a nice beginning.

But this post is about what I enjoyed eating whilst I was in Britain a few years ago. And again, these are just snapshots. I am not a good food photographer like some people I know, but it has been fun to gather these and edit them this week, before I inundate you with more lush, green landscape photos and wrap up my retrospective.

Just a store-bought packaged cake (and some hard cider!), but as cake is one of my favorite words and favorite things in this world, I found much to enjoy about it. And I couldn’t ask for a nicer perch to savor it than the windowseat in my castle kitchen.

A few photos from the one “fancy” tea I partook of. Tho’ both the company and the setting were delightful, my favorite teas are more hearty and homespun. But there was a wedding going on at the same time we were taking our tea and it was lovely to watch the happy people (and I got to see my first fascinator!). The best part was the prelude to the tea, when I first dallied and then ran down Binsey, quickly climbed the stile, nipped into my friend’s waiting car and hurriedly changed from climbing dress to manor-house tea-party dress in a matter of minutes. It was exhilarating and, somehow, James Bondish, and helped me to settle down to proper “lady” behavior at our fine tea table.

The local pub where we enjoyed a simple, delicious meal one evening at the corner booth with a real fire burning merrily in the grate.

An unlovely photograph perhaps…but the soup was so wonderful and that view! I wanted to remember how it felt sip a warm cup of soup and look upon the Thames.

It is so easy to find really good vegetarian food in Britain. Food that celebrates its veggie-ness and is not just a meatless version of something else. The variety and color and substantial-ness of the offerings that we found in this Edinburgh diner were so nourishing…to our souls and our bodies. Lucky students who have this place so close, everyday.
And back to our castle…imagine taking a tour around cold castle rooms for a few hours until you were filled up with wonder and chilled to the bone and when you went through the door that was the “way out”, you looked down upon this….


We sat at the table right next to the huge fire place, and a few feet from this…

I do apologize for the blur…was it some leftover shivers? Or my wonder at the 1-2-3-4 (count them!) cakes to choose from….the well-stocked shelves of crockery…the fresh flowers…the tea and coffee waiting to be poured….
One of my pet peeves about my dear country is that they are always separating the salad from the rest of the meal. Why do they do that? And this is what I love about so many meals in Britain….everything arranged happily and cosily together on a plate (just like home) and a pot of tea near-to-hand.
(Baked potato with cheese and two salads)
My first Victoria Sponge. More tea. Still in heaven.
I love English cakes…frosting on top and middle, but the sides humble and crumby….or perhaps no frosting at all, just jam and some sprinkled sugar. We don’t really do that so much here, tho’ I am going to give it a go. I love a frosted-all-over cake for birthdays, but perhaps I can justify more cake-baking if they are less indulgent and more homey and simple? I shall keep you posted.


The delights of travel…how I hope to enjoy them again in the future. I have my hopes set on some farmhouse B&Bs and a vegetarian hotel in the Lake District, for a start…